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One of the most technically proficient of David Cronenberg's early gnawing, Canadian-made horror movies (1981), though it lacks both the logic and the queasy sexual subtext that made his still earlier work—Rabid, They Came From Within—so memorably revolting. The premise—warring factions of telekinetic killers are sent out by two mysterious corporations—is vague but suggestive, and it's developed with a creepy psychological resonance, though the film loses some force through the needlessly complicated, indifferently presented plotting. Like Tod Browning, Cronenberg doesn't have the stylistic resources to match the forcefulness of his ideas, but his movies remain in the mind for the pull of their private obsessions. With Stephen Lack, Patrick McGoohan, and Jennifer O'Neill. R, 102 min.

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